F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg was available for interview recently to talk about motorsport and his future. The F1, though, has been ruled out by the young German living in Monaco, and it’s a chapter he closed at 31 years old with a smile on his face. This same smile he kept throughout the interview.
You’ve had a great run as World Champion of F1, on the last course of the season at Abu Dhabi. Tell us about it.
It was the most intense race of my life. I was in position to lose the championship three times during the 55 laps. It was very hard because I didn’t know what to expect. It was a huge relief then to carry it to the end. I had imagined every possible scenario for that race. I’m really glad I came out of it on top.
The F1 has set the pace of your life, do you not feel that it will leave you with a feeling that something is missing?
It’s a big change. It was not a casual decision to leave. When I think about it, all the days of my life were devoted to the F1. That’s huge. But in the end I’m very happy with my career. I have achieved everything I wanted. I just want to move on to something else now. I still have many projects and challenges to seek in life. For me it’s the moment to spend more time with my family. When you do sport at a high level, it leaves you with little time for other things. You can make this sacrifice for a while, but not forever.
You mention other projects… are they sports-related?
(Thinking) No, not sports for the moment. I can see myself in real estate, as an entrepreneur, helping young people in motorsport.
Because you know that, without help, it can be difficult to succeed in motorsport?
Yes, definitely. In our sport, you must have a lot of money to get to the F1.
When did you decide to stop?
This decision started to take shape as soon as the possibility of becoming World Champion became clearer. In the final weeks just before the end of the Season.
Was there not the risk in thinking about “after” before you had even finished the Season?
It probably wasn’t a good idea (smiling). So I did everything I could to avoid thinking about it. But at the same time, this is what made me feel the most determined in the last race. Before the start, I knew that I should take advantage of that moment and enjoy it. I had a clear idea in mind of what I had to do.
Your team posted a humorous announcement in a German racing journal to find your replacement. How would you have written it, yourself?
They already included all the funny bits, so I would have written the same.
What kind of advice would you give to someone wanting to send in their CV ?
What advice? (Thinking) I would say: “don’t think that it’s going to be simple. Because in the other car, there’s Hamilton!” And he doesn’t mess around on the track! (smiling). But with a bit of panache, it’s possible to do good work.
Do you think you would have been Champion if Hamilton had not been at your side?
But I am Champion!
Let’s say that this internal rivalry has perhaps helped you to push yourself to your limits?
Of course. But for him as well. We both helped to push each other. Always pushing higher.
Without overstepping the boundaries?
Um. We did overstep the boundaries: both of us came off the track at Barcelona!
What is your relationship with Lewis?
It’s good. I think there’s still the possibility that we’ll be close friends one day.
Emotionally, this was a tough season.
It’s always tough.That’s what happens when you are always battling at higher and higher levels. But it’s a beautiful struggle. I learned a lot about myself.
Like what for example?
The sport taught me to develop myself on a personal level, in a huge way. I learned to work with others in the midst of an intense season, to give respect, to build a team, etc… I appreciated these human connections. I was also my own agent in some way, negotiating on behalf of myself.
One gets the impression though that the F1 is a selfish sport.
I would say one needs to know how to do both. It’s important to be selfish to do your job properly, but equally you need to know how to think about the team.
What does the Côte d’Azur represent for you ?
Very simply, it’s home. It’s where I live. It’s a place I love and where I want to spend the rest of my life. For me, it’s the most beautiful place in the world. I went to school in Nice; I’m practically a native Niçois.
The land of cars.
Of course, Monaco, with its track, it’s all part of the heritage. The first Mercedes in history ran its first race in la Turbie (early 1900). It’s incredible! So, yes, we can really say that it’s a historic area.
The F1 is coming back to Castellet!
Great! I’m happy for the fans in France. I will surely come see that.
And the Monaco Grand Prix, do you see yourself in the stands?
It would be strange, for sure. I don’t know how I would feel. But I’m sure of one thing.
I will be a fan of the sport!
It’s clear from this interview that Nico Rosberg will in some ways still be sticking close to the world of motorsport, in the true spirit of his adopted homeland.